DETROIT — Sales in June fell 7 percent at Fiat
Chrysler Automobiles, 5.1 percent for Ford and 4.7 percent for
General Motors amid a broader industry decline now entering its
sixth consecutive month.
Sales of Ford SUVS
such as the Explorer, Edge and Flex were strong during the month but
were not enough to overcome the 23 percent drop the automaker saw in
car sales. The story was similar for GM, where a number of new or
recently launched SUVs, such as the Chevrolet Equinox and Buick
Envision, could not counteract falling sales of cars such as the
Chevrolet Cruze, Malibu and Impala.
At Fiat Chrysler, sales rose 6 percent for Ram and
soared for the Alfa Romeo brand but fell 11 percent for Jeep, a
surprising decline for a brand that sells nothing but SUVs, the
market’s best-performing segment.
“Yes, Jeep is shifting around its models, but this
is Jeep’s market and one you would think they would be able to
capitalize on,” said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst for
Among Asian automakers, sales increased 2.1
percent for Toyota, 2.0 percent for Nissan and 0.8 percent for
Honda. Meanwhile, German automaker Volkswagen, recovering from its
diesel emissions scandal, said its sales increased 15 percent in
While automakers are still selling cars at a
healthy pace, they are spending more money on incentives and using
longer lending terms to do so, leading to concerns that sales are
poised to fall faster than they were expected to at the beginning of
Edmunds.com, Kelley Blue Book and LMC Automotive
all predict overall industry sales in June will fall between 2-4
percent. The projections translate to a seasonally adjusted
annualized selling rate of 16.5 million, the industry’s weakest
first half of a year since 2014.
“U.S. total sales are moderating due to an
industry-wide pull-back in daily rental sales, but key U.S. economic
fundamentals clearly remain positive,” Mustafa Mohatarem, GM chief
economist, said in a statement Monday. “Under the current economic
conditions, we anticipate U.S. retail vehicle sales will remain
strong for the foreseeable future.”
Ford said it sold 227,979 cars and trucks in June,
down from 240,109.
Among Ford’s SUVs, sales rose 23 percent for the
Explorer, 20 percent for the Edge and 26 percent for the Flex.
However, sales fell 20 percent for the Focus compact car and 31
percent for the Fusion mid-size sedan.
“Customers drove a record 406,464 Ford brand SUV
sales in the first half of this year,” Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice
president of sales, said in a statement.
Declines in industry sales, even if modest, could
cut into the automaker’s profits and could lead to production cuts
at auto plants across the U.S.
Buick was the star brand for GM in June, with a
sales increase of 16.4 percent. That gain was driven by a 248
percent gain for the Envision SUV and a 7 percent gain for the
smaller Encore SUV.
However, sales fell 3.6 percent for GMC, 6.4
percent for Chevrolet and 11.8 percent for Cadillac.
Sales rose 49 percent for an all-new Chevrolet
Equinox SUV and 27 percent for the GMC Acadia SUV but fell 31
percent for the Chevrolet Cruze compact car, 33 percent for the
Malibu midsize car and 77 percent for the Impala full-size car.
“The all-new Equinox is off to a strong start and
we will leverage that momentum as we introduce four additional
crossovers in the second half of 2017,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice
president of sales.
FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES
At Fiat Chrysler, the company’s Ram brand
continues to gain ground and the new Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan is
boosting numbers as the automaker relaunches that brand in America.
However, sales fell 14 percent for Dodge and 15 percent for Chrysler
Sales for the Jeep brand, which has been red hot
in recent years, fell 11 percent in June and have dropped 13 percent
for the first half of the year to 406,291.
Over the first six months of the year, sales of
Jeep SUVs have declined 1 percent for Wrangler, 19 percent for
Cherokee, 49 percent for Patriot and 49 percent for Compass. Sales
did increase 2 percent for the Renegade and 16 percent for the Grand
Cherokee. Jeep also is in the process of launching an all-new
Compass and is still building inventory at its dealerships for that
LOWER EXPECTATIONS FOR 2017
The slowdown in sales is causing both automakers
and analysts to cut their predictions for the year.
Last week, LMC Automotive cut its forecast for
2017 to 17.1 million units, down from 17.2 million. That would work
out to a 2.3 percent decline from the 17.55 million vehicles
automakers sold last year, which was a record.
“Nerves are being tested,” Jeff Schuster, senior
vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, said in a report.
“It will be challenging in the second half of the year to keep pace
with 2016, so some additional weakness and further risk are expected
in both fleet and retail volume, but a year still expected above 17
million units should not be considered a poor performance.”